Netanyahu reportedly requests meeting with Jordan’s Abdullah, is rejected

Netanyahu reportedly requests meeting with Jordan’s Abdullah, is rejected

Amman said to even refuse phone call between leaders ‘in light of difficult relations’; Jordan won’t attend reported Camp David meet if it’s ‘just a photo op,’ says Arabic paper

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014 (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and Jordan's King Abdullah II, during the former's surprise visit to Amman on January 16, 2014 (AP/Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently requested a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II but was turned down, the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Saturday.

According to the London-based Arabic outlet, a follow-up request for a telephone conversation between the two leaders was also refused.

A Jordanian official cited in the report said the rebuff was made “in light of the difficult relations between Jordan and Israel,” due to Israel’s upcoming elections and US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

The newspaper also reported that Jordan is not interested in attending an upcoming Camp David conference with Arab leaders reportedly being planned by the US, during which Trump would roll out his political plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

An unnamed source in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office denied the story.

The newspaper report quoted the official as saying that the summit would likely be nothing more than a photo-op, similar to the administration’s recent Bahrain conference which focused on economic elements but was largely boycotted by the Palestinians.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embrace prior to signing a Proclamation on the Golan Heights in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, March 25, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP)

The White House has denied that any such summit is planned.

According to the report Saturday, Jordan has stressed that if Trump and the US want real discourse, the government will reconsider.

The US has so far kept the political elements of its plan under wraps, while the economic side of it was presented in June by Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner at the conference in Bahrain, where he dangled the prospect of $50 billion in investments into a stagnant Palestinian economy.

But no details have been published so far about how the plan tackles key issues such as a potential independent Palestinian state, Israeli control over the West Bank, the fate of Jerusalem and the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians to homes from which their families fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948.

Trump has taken the landmark step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Kushner has suggested the peace plan would not mention a Palestinian state.

Palestinians have rejected the plan outright, saying it is an attempt to bribe the Palestinian people without addressing their demands for independence.

On Wednesday it was reported that Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa also rejected a request by Netanyahu to meet.

The Arabic-language Saudi-owned Elaph newspaper said the prime minister recently asked Al Khalifa for the meeting through an envoy who he dispatched to Bahrain, saying he wished to inform Bahraini officials about “a dangerous security matter.” Al Khalifa was quoted as saying, “the time has not come yet.”

Netanyahu wanted to use the meeting with the Bahraini king to benefit his election campaign ahead of the September 17 national vote, the source also contended.

Kushner met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Wednesday for talks on the controversial US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, where the king reiterated his call for an independent Palestinian state.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (center) meets White House adviser Jared Kushner (4th from left) and US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, (3rd from left) in Amman on May 29, 2019. (Petra News)

The two discussed “efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the royal court said in a statement. Kushner was visiting Jordan on a tour that includes a number of countries in the region.

During their meeting King Abdullah stressed “the need to achieve a just and lasting peace to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state… with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace and security alongside Israel,” the court said.

He said any peace plan should be based on the internationally backed two-state solution and in accordance with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on July 31, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The initiative called on Israel to withdraw from all land it seized in 1967, in exchange for normalization between all Arab states and Israel.

Kushner later traveled to Israel and met Netanyahu Wednesday evening.

Relations between Amman were further strained this week after Jordan on Thursday closed Aaron’s Tomb to visitors without express permission to visit, after it said a group of Israeli pilgrims prayed at the holy site illegally.

According to Jordanian reports cited by Hebrew-language media, Waqf Minister Abdul Nasser Musa Abu al-Basal, who controls Islamic affairs and holy sites, made the decision after a video circulated online of Jewish pilgrims praying at Aaron’s Tomb, saying it was an illegal prayer service.

The pilgrims were in Jordan to visit the Tomb of Aaron, the biblical high priest and brother of Moses, who tradition holds is buried on Mount Hor, near Petra, at a site known locally as Jabal Haroun.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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